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Excerpt for Kill 'Em All- Serenity by , available in its entirety at Smashwords







What is Romance,

Without Adventure?

What is Adventure,

Without Romance?







Any story in any setting is merely people dealing with people. It could even be a person dealing with inner demons, the story will lack interest without the introduction of another person. See my GYRO 1333B as a good example. Surprise! He gets ‘lucky.’

It may be in a house, a cave, a tin can in space, a bubble underwater but it makes no difference. The interface of the environment is of interest to the Science Fiction fan, or the Hunter, perhaps the Business Tycoon or Explorer. But the story must have the give and take of people… G. Weldon Tucker









Kill ‘em All

By

G. Weldon Tucker

#TheStoryteller (since 1995)







The use of names of countries, cities, states, domestic or foreign, or their elements of authority or government, as well as religions and religious beliefs, is not intended to parallel or portray any group of people, authority or organization anywhere on or off the planet. The accuracy with which the story is told is merely coincidental where it is true, and imagination where it is not. Please forgive my lack of precision and instead, enjoy the story for what it is intended, fiction.



©2013 G. Weldon Tucker- Tampa Bay, FL- USA

Kill ‘Em All



Book I
The Refugee

1

The crash cart wheeled noisily down the hallway of the busy Metro City Hospital, one wheel protesting all the way. The intern at the foot, pushing with experience and accuracy, reminded himself for the fiftieth time to get some WD-40 on it. If and when he had time…

The doctor hurrying alongside the new arrival, headed for a service room, was trying to check vitals while avoid being rammed by some other less cautious cart wielder. “Pulse one sixty, heavy, deep. Gotta be some injury deep inside. Hurry it up, Cal!”

Hurrying up was not an option and both Cal and the Doc knew it. All of them would end up on a crash cart, probably waiting their turn in the hallway. Like everybody else.

“What did the EMT tell you?” Dr. Suleyka Pica called back to Cal. A grad out of Boston U in biology, then Boston Medical in Internal Medicine, she was doing her second-year residency in Metro City Hospital, so named for being in the heart of NYC. Pica. Aptly named, she was indeed tiny.

Cal called back, “Not much, Suleyka. Found him on the street, apparent hit and run. They carefully blocked him on a board and hauled his ass here. Says he is heavy as hell!”

“They did not check him out?”

“Had two calls ahead of them. This was just a flyby pick up.”

“Good God, man’s inhumanity to man.”

He rolled his eyes. Suleyka was a Puerto Rican beauty, a ten year Boston resident and now here in NYC, and her accent, though subdued, was cute. But he had heard that homily a hundred times.

“Whatev, Doc.” He had tried, but she was not interested in a lowly intern. Not yet. He would be a doctor himself in another five years. She had told him, point blank, that she was not there to support the runup of another doctor. Her own debt was high enough.

They wheeled in a hard, righthand turn into a curtained examination area, where Cal and two other hefty interns hoisted the oddly heavy man up and over to the hospital exam bed.

Both dutifully pulled up the rails on either side and then stood back as Suleyka tried to get a handle on this one.

“Bed scale reading three forty, though he does not seem that big. Six four,” the attending assistant, Ally, called out, busily hooking up electrodes.

Suleyka’s dark eyes mirroring only concern, she checked his pulse, his oxygen level, making notes, and noting the oddly jaundice yellow of the man. Then, she moved to his eyes to see if there was any reaction to light. Long silky lashes in silver to match the mop at his head. But then, she got her first real shock.

Everything other than the color of his skin did not repel her. She was, after all, a doctor, and this was the age of total acceptance. No such thing as weird, just some form of disadvantage or challenge, right?

Wearing her latex white gloves, she simply reached up and with her thumb, peeled up the upper lid. And damned near screamed in shock and surprise!

Instead of the usual rainbow of possibilities, and she had seen them all, this one had a gold iris, with a pupil that ran vertical like a cat… or a reptile! The pupil did not respond to light. “Got some kind of contacts on, Ally, can you check it. We need to get them out.

She hesitantly checked the other eye, receiving only the most minimal response to her light. The same odd pupil in the iris.

Nurse Practitioner Ally, Alice Two Toes, called out, dutifully, “Pulse one sixty two, steady. Two forty-four over one fifty, Doctor. Body mass off the scale, though.” Ally had quickly wired the strange body with electrodes and now stood by to monitor the machines. She started to examine the odd eyes with a tiny suction cup device, preparing to pull the contacts out. “Why is he still alive?”

“Not ours to wonder why, Ally,” Suleyka responded, mechanically. In her second year of residency, in the ER, she had seen it all. Some of the most randomly destroyed human bodies that bounce back, somehow, while someone with a minor infection died in the night. Stuff happens. But she was stronger than all of it. Even if this one was surely… weird.

Ally said, a bit of a tremor in her voice, “Not contacts, Doctor. Those are his own eyes!” She pulled back, shuddering noticeably. Her Native American Heritage probably understood this far better than Suleyka’s. Demon Spirit.

With the help of Cal, under Ally’s careful watch, they pulled the top sheet this way and that, trying to ascertain the extent of the man’s injuries. And he was male, no doubt about that. Again, distinctively odd, but yes, male. But, no injuries to be found!

“No bleeding, no hematomas, no respiratory damage that I can find. No head damage. What the hell landed him here?” Suleyka muttered.

Suleyka was getting down to counting fingers and toes when she got the next big shock.

All fingernails and toenails, ten of each, had a long, thick curve to them, as if his nails had not been cut in years. Even the homeless, near constant drop ins in the ER, with no one cutting nails for months, had such… armament.

Frankly, they seemed to be meant for climbing, for gouging, maybe for a grip on… prey. Suddenly, she backed away a few feet and said, shakily, “Cal, summon Dr. Shapely, now. This is outside my realm of knowledge or… ex… experience. Now!”

Dr. Shapely was ill named. First, because he was a he, and second, because he was built like an apple with skinny legs and big head. However, inside that head rested forty years of knowledge.

It was handy that Dr. Shapely lived in a nice resident apartment at the farthest southern penthouse unit in the hospital. Responsible for handling all complex cases and keeping the hospital out of severe liability, he was the go-to guy for oddness. Not that he displayed the least concern for his people, or his patients. Just doing his job… perfectly.



2

Dr. Shapely appeared within twenty minutes and Suleyka knew he had been awakened. It was almost three in the morning.

“What do we have, Doctor?” He also brooked no nonsense. If you called him out, it better be good.

True, he was always formal, but then, he was a fossil, well bred, from much earlier than the dinosaurs she often had to deal with. He never once patted her bottom or did more than shake her hand.

“I have never seen a physiology like this, Dr. Shapely! I would almost feel more comfortable if this one was at the vet’s.”

He glared at her as if she had forgotten all her training. He shook his head, adding, “Tsk, it cannot be that bad. You look frightened. Put on a professional face, Doctor. You have people looking up to you.”

The fact that Doctor Suleyka Pica was five feet and one inch did not seem to matter to the highest Doc in the place. Not that he was all that tall, but God, he was certainly old.

She watched as Dr. Shapely turned back the sheet off the body, down to the waist. No nipples, and no naval at all. He pulled the sheet back to the patient’s thighs. So, then, with an exclamation, he jumped back beside her.

“What the… hell is that?” he managed, obviously shaken.

“That, meaning the patient, I presume? I have no idea, Dr. Shapely. That is why I called you in. EMT tripped over him as a hit and run victim, but I cannot find any injuries. Ally, what are the vitals, now?”

Ally, despite the heightened consternation of the two Doctors in the room, called out, again, dutifully, “Pulse one sixty two, steady. Two forty-four over one fifty, Doctor. Steady on all. Temp is ninety two, stable.”

“He… cannot be… human. Not with those numbers. It would blow a man up, soon enough,” Shapely said.

Suleyka knew that this was not necessarily true, for she had often treated hypertensive or diabetics with horrible numbers, her only focus being to bring them under control. “I suggest an IV drip with simple morphine until we understand him better, Dr. Shapely.”

“Yes, I concur. Draw some blood, first, then, Ally, get him one CC morphine in a saline drip, immediately thereafter. Dr. Pica, report in thirty minute increments. I have another consult down the hall.” With that, he was gone. None of them saw him shake his head. This one is one for the books, all right.

“Yessir,” she said, automatically, though to his back, watching as Ally laid out a hemo collection set, then started setting up the drip. Then, there came shock number three.

Though the skin was an odd color, a sort of dim yellow, the feel of it seemed… well, almost human. Except that, try as Ally might, she could not find a vein. “He has a pulse in his wrist, Doctor. Should I try there?”

“Yes. This is more than odd. It is a bit… frightening. Do not let him touch you.” Horrible, unnamed diseases plague the mind of ER doctors all the time.

“You got that right, Doc. Wait, the needle will not go in! Look, it bent!”

Suleyka sighed as if exasperated, saying, “Oh, really, Ally! Let me try it.”

Ally slipped on a new needle and pulled off the plastic protective cover.

Suleyka did everything by the book, and still the needle simply would not penetrate! In fact, the skin might well have been a tough, tight plastic, for it did not even dent much with the pressure. “What the hell?” she said, looking at another bent needle in her hand.

Addicts have been known to use a number of strange places to get their heroin fix, and the two medics knew them all. Not one of them worked.

“Try under his tongue for a withdrawal, Ally, but watch out for a bite. Use a tongue depressor and tape, girl,” Suleyka told her.

Ally prised open the lax mouth, almost expecting a forked tongue, but things almost looked normal.

Almost, because within that oral cavity resided a full complement of meat tearing teeth. No chewing, nothing. This was a killer, a reptile and too much like a snake.

Ally boldly tried, keeping the comments and fear to herself. Sure enough, the needle did not penetrate the surface of the underside of his tongue, or anywhere else in his mouth.

Ally looked stunned. She managed, “My brother raised boa constrictors as a hobby until he and his wife had kids. The snakes were too dangerous to keep, and he got out of it. But the inside of this mouth is like a snake, but with a human-like tongue. I have never seen anything like it on a human being!”

Time had passed during all of this, and Dr. Shapely walked into the examination area.

“Any change, Doctor Pica?”

Suleyka shook her head, then showed him the bent needles. “We cannot penetrate his skin, anywhere, not even in his mouth. He has a normal looking tongue, but a mouth full of seriously catch and tear teeth. But even the tongue is too tough for our needles. We did everything but his… ummm, penis, sir.” It was one of the oldest, secret tricks to make a withdrawal, pending the inability to find a vein. Stuff happens. But Suleyka was not up for that, nosirree! She had seen that thing. No way!

“Well, he is male. There are some excellent blood gates down there. Have you looked?”

Suleyka turned deep red, which, with her light olive was an odd color, but the statement was the same as for all women. “No sir. I don’t believe anyone will touch that thing, Doctor.”

“Oh, for God’s sake! Give me a break, Pica! Ally, hand me a new withdrawal set.” As he spoke, he pulled another pair of latex gloves from his smock’s many pockets and donned them.

Ally complied and Dr. Shapely simply peeled the sheet off of the slightly yellow body. “Looks like Hepatitis to me. Bad liver. I see body wide jaundice. You check him for it? Well, no, no blood. Holy crap, that is… definitely… odd! What is that thing?”

Ally, a pretty Native American mix, put her fingers in front of her mouth and giggled, albeit quietly. It was certainly a penis, but it was big and oddly capped. Like a lion, perhaps, one of those once in, hard to get out kind of things. No one in the room had ever seen such equipment on a human being.

Suleyka remained stoic and noncommittal. Still, no way!

But it was Dr. Shapely’s problem, now. His sure hands shook a bit, but then, this was rather unusual for all of them.

Suleyka merely studied the master.



3

“Get some straps on him. Some animals come alive to kill when you touch these parts. I do not know what the hell we have but he is at least seventy five percent human. Lock him down,” Dr. Shapely ordered, prepping the needle by pointing it away from his body and preparing the rubber stoppered vacuum tube for collection.

Ally and Cal quickly placed the two inch wide leather straps across the patient at the appropriate places, from chest to hips, then the additional wrists and ankles.

“Ready, Doctor,” Ally reported.

Ten minutes later, five bent needles and a slightly enlarged penis, Dr. Shapely had to admit he was defeated. “Okay, one more place. Have you tried the eyeball?”

“No sir, but I suggest you get a good look at those eyes before you mess any farther with this patient,” Suleyka offered.

Shapely grunted, dismissing his resident doctor as a borderline nutcase with a difficult patient and leaned over the face of the unconscious man.

Before he could touch the eyelid, the man’s eyes snapped opened and those reptilian eyes focused on Shapely in a split second.

Like his resident, he almost screamed as he jumped away from the suddenly struggling man on the cot. He almost fell over Suleyka who stood a little too close to him.

“Jesus, what the hell is this thing? Can you hear me? Where are you from?” Dr. Shapely asked, doing his best to be professional, though his hands were now badly shaking. But then, so were the hands of the others.

Those eyes turned and watched Shapely for a moment, even as the arms tried the straps to no avail. Then the feet. But then, the creature went ballistic and thrashed dramatically under those straps.

First his right ankle tore free, then his left, and with a mighty heave, he pulled his wrists free. Only the belts across his chest and hips restrained him.

“CALL SECURITY, ON THE GODDAMNED DOUBLE,” thundered Shapely.

In the meantime, all four of the medicos were backing out of the curtained area and getting ready to flee.

The straps parted like they were made of string, and the big man sprang up off the cot with seeming ease, completely naked, ignoring the sheet, the rails or the people.

One could not say he glared at his ‘rescuers,’ for the face and the eyes held no expression at all.

Their own were wide in horror.

Knocking Shapely on his butt with a single elbow, and brushing past Ally and Cal, he raced out of the room, snatching up the relatively tiny, screaming Suleyka with apparent ease, his big arm around her waist, and her head and feet down near his calves, held helplessly.

Running the length of the hall, he raised his left fist, and that a very big one, screaming in a voice that almost broke the lights overhead, “KILL ‘EM ALLLL!” and blew right through the doors at the exit, into the parking garage.

Suleyka, of course, was still screaming her fool head off, certain she was to do lunch and not in a good way.

The creature suddenly, slowed, then stopped, finally turning and became very gentle as he set her on her feet. Almost in comic relief, he brushed off her lab coat with his big hands as he said, very clearly, “I sorry. I need help. Transportation?”

She had about torn out her voice in screaming, but she managed to realize, he needed a car. Hers. It was small SUV, but it was close. She nodded. She could not yet speak.

“Where?”

He speaks… English! What the hell?

She pulled out the keys from her smock. Suleyka had learned the hard way about leaving her keys in her purse in the back room. She not only lost her purse, her money and her ID in her wallet, but the keys, too. That had been one hell of a hassle.

She pushed a button and ten cars down on the left, the lights flashed on her dark red Escape. An old one, but obviously the right ‘make do’ level for a resident doctor in training.

The thing gripped her upper arm, gently enough, and hurried her to the car. “Need help. Help me.”

Somehow, Suleyka realized that whatever this man… this thing might be, he was not attempting to kill anyone, least of all her. She hit the locks and opened the passenger door.

He simply tossed her inside like a sack of wheat, all too easily, and then followed. She moved quickly across the console to the driver’s seat while he, literally, overfilled the passenger seat.

She said, oddly, “Put on the safety belt.” Then she blushed, for not only did he have no idea what she meant, but the belt would in no way encompass his massive size. The car dropped down six inches on the passenger side.

Sirens were blaring throughout the hospital and Suleyka knew that she would have to hurry down one level to the street before the lockdown. It was a choice, hurry and rescue him… or stall and be trapped with him.

She made good time, while the odd man hung onto an overhead handle and the dash, and was lucky enough to just skate through the guard station as the major blocks came up through the pavement and the steel gate came crashing down behind her.

“Who… are you. What are you?” she asked, as calmly as she could, though her heart was pounding in her chest. After all, a huge, almost yellow monster, naked… yes indeed, naked, had kidnapped her.

“Kill ‘em all,” he said, clearly enough to bring the hackles up on the back of her neck.

“Kill who?”

“Kill? No. Home. Planet. Killumall. Long way. I think I come by mistake. Fall to ground. Lost. I am lost. This not target.”

Thank God he speaks English, mostly. Planet? Am I going nuts? “Planet. An alien world?”

“Maybe so. I know little of your… people. I wake up, you find me.”

Her instincts were kicking in. This was a hapless soul, maybe from another planet (?), maybe from a rehab home of some kind, but there was no mistaking it, he was a different species. And he needed help.

That was her motto. Help.



4

“How can I help you?” she asked, trying to slow down a bit. No point in explaining this one to the police. But, in her best voice, it seemed, to her, earnest enough.

He looked at her, studying her. He reached out a big hand and she flinched, so, he paused, then he said, softly, “No hurt you.” He fingered her lab coat, saying, “You have wrapping… things. How I get these things? I must… hide… away… hide out until my rescue. You help me?”

Big and Tall would be likely. He was nearly six and a half feet tall, and easily two hundred fifty pounds in size. But like Cal had said, he seemed far heavier. Mass did not matter, but size did.

“I can do this. I live in an apartment outside of town. I can find you clothing that will give you some… privacy, if that helps, but then what?”

“No care privacy. No wear trapping things on Killumall. No beings wear clothing things.”

The light came on in her head. “Is that the name of your planet? Killumall?”

“You say it funny. But you are… humans? We observe you forms for many of your turns. Your planet noisy.”

TV, she suddenly realized. Why not? That story has been told before. SciFi stuff. Suleyka’s alternate self was a game playing, SciFi technophile. Slowed from her early college days, now, of course, because of seventy hour weeks in her MD pursuit as a resident. “How will you be rescued?”

He stopped looking at her and gazed out of the front window at the cars going by, the shops and such for a long minute before he said, in a small voice. “I do not know. I am… how you say, trapped. Many thousands of us sent in capsules in many directions. Killumall dying. Must find new home. No idea… how long ago. Maybe all gone.”

“Okay, what are you called?”

“Name? You no pronounce it. Hunter is meaning.”

“Then I will call you Hunter, is that all right with you?”

“Hunter. Good. How you find me?”

“Do you know what an ambulance is? Something that rescues people who are hurt?”

“Yes, have seen on you feeds. Many lights, much noise. Doctors?”

“Close. They are almost doctors. They found you lying in the street while on another call. They picked you up and delivered you to a hospital where I work.”

“You doctor.”

A statement of fact, not a question. He was reasonably intelligent, then, she thought. “I am.”

“You no can hurt me… you find out?”

“Yes, you are right. Why is that?”

“On Killumall, big things that hunt me. My… peoples…I develop protect… ummm, hard outer shell. No eat me. I kill, eat them.”

“You do not cook your meals, then.” It was an odd thought, but she was certain he ate raw meat.

“No understand cook. No. Eat enemy where I kill.”

Snake, raptor, lizard, whatever. Efficient, then, she thought. “If you are hungry, you will eat me?” She almost ducked at the possible answer.

“No. I find food not in your town. Maybe. I do not know. I go sleep in my capsule, some much time ago. I fall out of sky and wake up in strange place. What food is here?”

“There is plenty of packaged meat, raw, that we can buy. Well, I can buy some, but it takes more money than I have. We will have to work that out.”

“No understand ‘work that out’.”

“It a problem to solve. We will do it together.”

As she spoke, she turned the Escape into a small apartment complex. “Lucky I am on the ground floor. I will drive up close, go in and open the door, then you jump out and run inside. I will come park the car and then come back inside with you.”

“Umm, okay. I safe inside?”

“Safer than outside, Hunter.”

It was late, and no one was about. The transition from car to apartment went smoothly. She went back out to park the car, amused that he stood behind the door and watched her. If I drove off, could he catch me? But, no, I cannot leave him helpless. If he is, indeed, helpless… there is that to consider.

Back in the apartment, she pulled out a clean sheet for the double bed from the linen closet, and with his permission, put it on him like a toga. With a couple of safety pins, it worked fine. A temporary fix.

“Do you drink coffee?”

“Good to last drop. Folgers?”

It was almost too vague for her, but then she caught on. That was advertised seventy some years ago. Was your feed in color?”

“No understand… color. What is this?”

She pulled out two cloth napkins from a nearby kitchen drawer. One pink, one blue. “Are these different?”

“Of course. This is pale. This is dark. No see color.”

She changed direction. “So, you never tried coffee, then?”

“Drink water. Your name, water?”

“Yes, it is called water. I am… Doctor Pica, Suleyka.”

“What is Suleyka?”

“My private name, Hunter, like your name. Now, I will make coffee, but you do not have to drink it. It will help me stay awake to help you get settled.”

“Is good. I try coffee.”

Once prepared, she poured his in the biggest mug she could find. His hands and fingers could not handle a regular mug, and certainly not a cup and saucer.

He tested it, wrinkled his nose in a distinctly human way and set the big mug down, too hard. It slopped.

“Umm, I sorry. No mean to make mess.”

Using a paper towel, she smiled, asking, “What did you think of coffee?”

“No good to last drop. Not good first drop!”

She giggled. “You told a joke. You are more human than you think!”

She gave him water in a large plastic cup and he drank that down well enough.

“What kind of… creatures do you hunt and eat?”

“Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig. You know these creatures?”

“I do. Many live here in the wilderness.” Cartoons, from the fifties and sixties. Her head went into calculation mode. Maybe thirty years for the signal to reach them, thirty trillion miles. Thirty years back, times the speed of light for a year… Not accurate, something was off. His planet could be only thirty trillion miles away! In space, that is like right next door.

“You came from your home planet?” She carefully sipped her coffee, knowing she was too wired to sleep, but she needed something for her hands to do.

“Yes. Sleep capsule.”

“Do you understand miles, a length on Earth?”

“Fifteen hundred paces, I think, yes?”

With his long legs, good enough. “Your home planet lies at least thirty trillion miles away from us. You have been asleep for a long, long time.”

“I have. Sense it. How long in stasis?”

“Do you have any idea how fast you traveled?”

“You understand speed of light standard in universe, yes?”

“I do.”

“Ten times this speed of light. My people master this many years before we all go out. Forty trillion is my planet, I think. Closer guess.”

“Still, a long, long time. Four years? Unimaginable! How did you stay alive? No needle will penetrate your skin. You cannot eat asleep.”

“Mouth tube. Chemicals. My body near death. Barely alive for all time in capsule. Much hard to believe.”

“It is. We humans have barely started to look into space. We have to find you clothing… wrappings.”

She dug out a cloth sewing tape, approaching him cautiously. He was a big man, all right. “I must take measurements, Hunter, so that I can find you the right sized clothing. Wrapping. May I?”

He stood up and stoically allowed her to measure him.

“Okay, I must go to a store that has clothes for big men. I will be gone an hour or so. Can you tell time?”

“Of course. You go, I wait here.

“You wait here. Do not let anyone other than me come into this apartment.”

“Is good. You come back… ple… please?”

How on earth am I supposed to abandon the poor creature, now? She wondered.



Book II
Black-Ops



1

The first thing she did when she got into the car to head downtown, she called the hospital to let them know she was safe and unharmed. But she begged off work for a few days to get her wits back.

Dr. Shapely, ancient as he was, insisted, “The best way out of trauma is to work through it, young Suleyka.”

“Not for me. I will call when I am ready. I have two weeks of vacation coming.”

“No resident takes vacation, Suleyka. It reflects badly on your record.”

Bastard, she thought, but kept it inside. “No one has gone through a kidnapping by what might be an alien monster, either, and that reflects badly on the hospital. We do not want that, do we, Dr. Shapely?” Suleyka had teeth, and she knew how to use them.

He paused. The lights had come on. He was not sure that the hospital was liable for this incident, but he was not willing to test it out. “Fine, two weeks, no more, Doctor Pica. We do not want to lose you.”

The threat was clear. She agreed and pushed END. Moments later, she was pulling up in front of the Big and Tall store on Broadway.

Sunglasses would hide his eyes, she knew. But gloves in summer would draw too much attention. Now it was time to find out if she could outfit him by remote.

She had measured his feet, his arm length, his chest, shoulders and waist. His inseam was rather embarrassing until he helped by pulling the sheet tight to his equipment and allowing access to make the measurement. He did not understand her reluctance, but he tried to comply.

“Sorry,” she had said, but he merely grinned. Lots of pointy teeth. Now, how the hell to I fix that?

She nearly maxed out her card, but came away with two denim shirts, on sale, as few wore these anymore. Jeans of appropriate size and length. Socks, tennis shoes, nothing stylish or expensive. Tossing in a pair of very dark sunglasses, she felt good about what she had accomplished.

On arrival home, Suleyka found two police cars at the curb in front of her apartment building! Instinctively, she knew they were looking for her. She looked down the length of apartments on the ground floor but saw no one at her door. They are in the office, then.

She shoved her purchases down at the rear seat floorboard, out of sight with the heavy tinted windows, and climbed out.

There was a sour looking man in a worn suit and two uniforms with him. All three turned to the door as she pushed her way in

“Hold, it sister!” the sour man said, scowling.

“That would be Doctor Pica to you, sir, and who the hell are you?” as if she did not know.

“I am Will Harper.” He displayed a Detective First badge and ID and she took it, reading it carefully, buying time. “You are far too slow. The man or thing had me drop him at the entrance to Central Park. I was still terrified and a bit of a mess, so I went home and cleaned up. I already called in to the hospital. I cannot tell you a thing about him.

“He give you a name?” Dull, persistent, and not a listener.

“Yeah, Detective, he said call me baby! Hell, no, we did not talk at all! He directed my driving by pointing and grunting. I cannot even tell you if he was human!”

“Why is that, Doctor? He was naked.”

“Ya think? I was not observing, I was trying to survive! I got lucky. Nothing more to tell.”

“Your colleagues say that they could not draw blood and his pulse and blood pressure were off the charts. What do you know about that?”

She looked at him coldly. He was six two, skinny as a weed, and for a moment, she thought of simply taking him down. Martial arts had been fun and informative, but she had never had a chance to use it. No time to practice, now.

No, not good, so she shrugged. “We tried. It could not be done. Hard skin is not only rare, it is unheard of. You figure it out. I am tired, and I need some sleep.” She turned to check her mailbox, then back to leave.

He put a hand on her upper arm to hold her and asked, “Where have you been this morning? There is no answer at your apartment.”

Good, Hunter had the good sense to keep quiet. “If you touch me again, I will file charges of assault, detective. I went to breakfast. I often do after work. So what?”

“We need to search your apart…”

She popped up a hand and shut him off. “No, you do not! That is my private residence and I protect it. Go chase down traffic tickets or something. Come back after I have had time to clean up the place. I am a Doctor and I demand respect.”

That might have been a bit over the top, but she was getting pissed. He had jerked his hand off of her, so maybe he did listen.

“Uh, well, okay. Can you describe the assailant?”

“Let’s see, you had probably ten people at the hospital who gave you a very good description, Detective. For part of the time, I was in terror, hanging upside down in a very strong arm as he blew through the hospital. You have a description. Now, I am done. Go away. I am exhausted. It has been one hell of a night. Good day.”

With that, Suleyka, feeling oddly empowered, stomped out of the office, got in her car and drove to the front of her apartment. She could see them watching, so she merely took her purse and found her keys at the door. Once inside, the door closed, she called out, “Hunter?”

Another direct shock to the mind. He appeared as if out of thin air, right in front of her! She had seen nothing and suddenly, there he was! Stark naked!

“Whaaat?” she yelped and jumped back, but hit the door behind her. “You can… disappear?”

For a moment, she thought she might simply faint to the floor…

As if he sensed her sudden loss of balance, he reached out a big hand and gripped her forearm until she could focus.

Gently, he said, “I can blend to things around me. Almost disappear and make very hard to see. Good thing, for some of your men come and try to look in the windows. I see them first. They go away, after making much noise on the door and calling your name.”

“You are chock full of surprises,” she said, closing the draperies and bringing the entire apartment into darkness. “We have a species of reptile that can blend, and we call it a chameleon. Very clever. It looks like the police are leaving. Let me get the stuff I bought out of the car.”

He looked puzzled, saying only, “Chock full?”

“A slang expression, common if not sensible. Full up with interesting skills and ideas. That is you.”

He almost beamed. For a moment, she thought he was going to emulate Andy of the old Mayberry RFD, TV series, maybe the Andy Griffith show, scuff the rug with a toe or something. She was not sure. But she thought he might hang his thumbs in his suspenders… that he did not have on.

In fact, it dawned on her, here he was still standing there, comfortably… naked. She yelped and scurried around him for the sheet tossed over the couch.

She almost threw it at him, growling, “Here, you must wear this around me. We have customs you must follow or it is too embarrassing to have you here.”

“I sorry. Man come to window, he be notice to see sheet standing alone, no?”

Suleyka had to agree, but insisted, “As soon as you can, you must put this back on, every time. I will get the packages out of the car. I think you will be pleased.”

No one accosted her, or even seemed to be paying attention to her as she got the five packages out of the back seat of the small Escape.

Inside, she had to show him how to don the shirt, finding herself uncomfortably too close to the nearly naked man… creature… alien… whatever.

He could not handle the buttons on his shirt, though the pants were of a larger button style. That he figured out with one showing. The shirt, she realized, she would have to button for him, each time.

The shirt was perfect. Long sleeves to hide some of that yellow color, but snug with those huge biceps and forearms. The pants, after a struggle, fit well. But then came the realization that she had forgotten boxers or some such. But eventually, down to socks and tennis shoes with Velcro fasteners, he was dressed. He looked so nearly human that she was certain no one would know unless they studied him. No one in New York bothered. People were just dynamic scenery.

Slightly off color, but many people are off color. Not white, not pink, not black, but many shades in between.

Now they spent two hours trying to get his nails and hair under control. The nails were like iron, thicker than normal, certainly far too long to pass inspection. Still, with obvious trepidation, Hunter had agreed to let her try to mask him.

She cut his hair to something more acceptable in these modern times, and he endured her fussing. The scissors had to fight to get through every strand. In fact, the garden clippers worked better on the wiry stuff.

She helped him don the sunglasses, then led him by a big hand to the nearby full-length closet door mirror.

“I am changed. I no make you so… fright… scared?”

“I think you are a kind-hearted man… creature. But here, on this world, you must look like a man. Something that people do not understand, they will often kill. Now, look at my smile.”

She did, and he looked at her in the mirror, a soft expression, somehow, on his face, looking down at her. He smiled, then checked his own image. “I no never see me before. I have fright teeth, yes?”

“Well, I think that I have gotten used to seeing them, but others will notice. You must keep your mouth closed as much as possible, wear your glasses, and never smile at anyone. Can you do that?”

“I no smile, anyway. Feel strange. I look good, like your people?”

Well, to tell the truth, if it weren’t for those teeth, he was close, Heavy of brow, thick nose and lips. Tall, overly muscled, his nails now manicured, his skin only slightly off… even his silver hair now cut to a more modern look. Her work, along with his nails.

Yes except for the eyes, he looked almost human. About like how The Hulk looks human, but in Hunter’s case, half the size. I am trained to help. I am helping… it was almost a mantra.



2

As she made sure to clean up all the hair and nails, putting them in plastic garbage sack, then vacuuming the area, she turned on the TV to keep him occupied.

She needed a shower, herself, a chance to get control of her wits. Inane news rolled by and he watched, avidly.

Then, suddenly, it happened.

The picture of a bright light high in the sky showed on the screen. A meteor explosion in the stratosphere. She put a hand on his rather cool arm and said, “Wait, here is how you came to earth!”

She backed the program up for the few minutes it had been running. He watched raptly, as she brought the sound up and announcer was explaining that no meteor had been seen coming and it exploded high enough to avoid damage or injury on the ground.

“That is how you got there. If they can work the formula, they can figure where you came from, Hunter. It is the first step in going home.”

“No home. Our star go to explode within few years of my leaving. No way to stop it. We are the only… how you say… umm… survivors. If there be refugee ships, I have not … no… any idea.”

She was tempted to correct his English but felt this was not the best time. “Can you see color on the television?”

“All shadows and light. See fine. You see color?”

“Humans do. Not every creature sees color on this planet, though. I am not sure if you are somehow related to some of our creatures, or you evolved on your own.”

“No understand evolved.”

Suleyka paused a moment. This was not like her struggling with the English language so many years ago. This was a totally foreign… creature… One who got his English from fifties and sixties television.

“How did you come to be on Kill em All?”

He corrected her, “Kill…ummm… mall. Killumall.”

“Sorry, this is all so… new to me. We humans call those who might exist out there in space, aliens. I am struggling with it, because until today, I thought there were no other creatures in space. So, how did you come to be on Killumall?”

Some of his reactions and gestures were so human it was plain strange. Like placing one of those big hands under his heavy chin as he leaned on an elbow and thought about it.

“We always were. We have no school. The academy is for explorers. I spend five turns… umm, would be ten of your turns around your star, studying space and science. We were already getting ready to … how you say, depart.”

“Okay… what do you know of your ancestors? Did they always look like you?”

He thought some more, then shrugged, another distinctly human gesture. “I know nothing of these ancestors. I come from an egg. No one to show me nothing, no help. Many eggs, few … ummm… survivors. Dangerous ground.”

“How many years… ummm, your turns do you normally live?”

“Don’ know. Most dead by bigger hunters too soon. Some in guarded cities with better … techno… system… no know right word. Protect all.”

“Technology provides security?”

“Yes, that it. But it no stop the growing star. Too hot, too close, too soon.”

“Scientists, those who study space and such things, predict our own star, what we call a sun, will explode, too, but in millions of years. But we, as a species, study our evolution and our ancestors, how we got here. It helps to avoid repeating mistakes.”

“What is this mistake?”

She almost said that his arrival on earth was probably a mistake, but then chose to go in a different direction. “When someone makes an error that harms another person, our people, they try not to repeat it. But not all are good people, and some of those will not understand you. I must keep you safe until you can blend in.”

He shrugged, either not understanding, or overloaded.

Frankly, she could not blame him.

The TV announcer said, suddenly, a bit frightened, “This just in. Near Boston Harbor, at the mouth of the inlet, a similar occurrence as over New York City last night just happened in broad daylight. No one saw it coming, and it exploded too high to damage buildings or injure anyone. Witnesses say pieces fell from high in the sky into the water. Of course, the investigation continues. More when we have it, folks.”

“She’s here!” Hunter cried, leaping up off the sofa, where it had already begun to sag from his weight.

“Who is here, Hunter?”

“My mate! To protect our project, we travel in different capsules. Carefully align the launch tube for us… we travel far, but so close. She got behind me… somewhere.”

Oh, my God, there are two? She thought and had to grasp the nearby kitchen chair back to stabilize herself. “What do we do? Are there more coming?” For a moment, the word invasion filled her mind, frightening her.

“No more. Many sent out, but in all di… places… angles. We must go to this Boston place and I find her!” He looked at her as if wondering why she did not understand.

“Your mate? There are nearly a million people in that place, more in all those surrounding cities and towns. How will you find her?”

“I no can explain it, Suleyka. Can we go? I show you. She come to me.”

Suleyka stood stunned a moment. I will lose my job. It will take longer than a couple of weeks. But what else can I do? I saved him, I dressed him, and Lord help me, but somewhere along the way, I have to feed him. Somehow, without meaning to, I have… adopted him. But, we are… friends… I hope.

His mate, however may eat me…



3

Two hours later, with Suleyka driving her small Escape SUV and luggage crammed in almost as tight as Hunter, they headed north toward Massachusetts. On the way out of the city, she paused behind a 7-11 and tossed the bag of nails and hair, including the contents of the vacuum. Nothing could be left at her apartment, just in case.

“I know that we will pass through an area were the deer, a large animal of hooves and horns, are thick. I will let you out to hunt and pick you up when you need me.”

“Is good. I call you like this,” and his face had no expression, but only a dull ache in her ears told her he was making a loud sound. “No good, Hunter. My human ears are not able to hear it.”

“WONNNNKK!!”

The next blast about took her right out of the car through the rolled up window!

She covered her ears and cried, “STOP! TOO LOUD. That is like the airhorn of a big truck. I can hear that. You can make two of those sounds, wait a moment and two more, and I will come back for you at the place I drop you off. Will that be okay?”

“Okay. Humans weak. Not good for your people. Mine could come and take your planet, too easy.”

“I am helping you because I believe in helping others. If that is a threat, you are going to be dropped in the wilderness and you will find out just how strong you really are… and how strong humans can be.”

He put a big hand up in a distinctly human gesture and said, “Oh. No. Okay. No’ a threat. Just a thought, I think. You good to me. I good to you. Promise! Aunt Bea say I keep promises!”

Andy Griffith… A few hours later, she dropped Hunter off at the exit ramp from a rest stop. He dropped his clothing beside the car and simply… disappeared. But he was there. The clothing mysteriously lifted into the car, the door closed and then he was gone. It took a minute to get her heart rate back to normal. Chameleons, she thought. Has to be. Trained by Aunt Bea… God!

She then circled up out and around through side roads to come back northbound to park in the service area to find some food. She had little money, and almost no credit card room, but she managed. She just hoped Hunter had good luck in his hunting for deer.

It was only an hour and half later that she heard the distinctive airhorn sound, one- two, a pause, and one-two. She started the car, shook her head to clear the cobwebs, having been half asleep, and drove out toward the turnpike north. He saw her coming and mysteriously appeared, just up the road from her. She was having a hard time getting used to that. But she was having a harder time with his casual attitude toward nudity.

And I call myself a Doctor. Tsk!

Suleyka pulled over and leaned across the small car to open the door. He looked clean, and she wondered how he avoided blood. He quickly slipped on his pants, somehow aware that his nakedness upset her, especially, down there. He put on the shirt but stopped, leaving it open. His fingers still could not master the fastenings.

“Did you find food?” she asked him, buttoning his shirt for him.

“Yes, two. Good. I no eat now for several turns. Good. You?”

“I did. Not two deer, though. I would burst.”

He laughed, an odd sound. “Yes, you weak. But good to pick me up… again. Good.”

“Okay, you will not have to eat for several days?”

“Many light and dark turns.”

Like a big snake, she thought and shuddered, helplessly. He did not remark on it.

Finally, they arrived near the harbor, off on a side road that led to the airport.

“We close to water?”

“Very close to the harbor, but it is many miles across the water.”

“Mate walk under water for land, from right on arrival. I find her. Wait here.”

Before she could get her question, ‘how long’ out, he was gone, dropping the clothing and tossing it back into the car. He had disappeared.

Using her time wisely, she pulled out her backup wallet from the glove box and counted her money. Not much. Thank God she did not have to feed him. All four credit cards, duplicates for those still back at the hospital, were maxed. As a protector and host of this pair, she did not offer much. Maybe, just understanding. She hoped it would be enough.



4

It began to rain, hard, and Suleyka had been waiting for over two hours, considering that maybe he got lost, or went off with his mate, when she saw an odd sight.

Two large creatures were hurrying through the rain, though she could see neither one. The water sheeting down their bodies was the only clue they existed.

Hunter opened the passenger door and smiled, fully visible, fully naked, and said, “You have sheet?”

She had wisely packed it, realizing that if they found his mate, she would be naked. She scrabbled around in the bag behind her seat and pulled it out.

The creature that appeared before her was nearly identical to Hunter. No breasts, no nipples, no naval. No… nothing, that she could see, but an odd, and big, lightly yellow being.

“I am Xcurtyrty…”

But Hunter put a big hand on her big forearm and said, “Doctor Suleyka Pica, dear. Humans no can understand us. Use English. You be May. Humans no understand no wrappings.”

“Okay. I am May… for Mayberry. You are Doctor Suleyka Pica. Help me put this on?” she asked, holding the sheet.

The voice was female, hesitant, but friendly enough. Suleyka took a deep breath, stood between the aliens in the rain and helped them both dress. Both towered more than a foot over her head. At least, despite reptile eyes and a rather shapeless body, May looked almost human. Big, but anorexic.

“You must wear the toga… the sheet at all times, May. No one must see you without it, or it will bring unwanted attention to you. If you get arrested or caught, I cannot help you!””

“I see. Is good. You good person, Doctor Suleyka Pica. You help Xer… ummm, Hunter and me. How we repay you this honor?”

By being all alone… no invasion, she thought, uncharitably. But she said, “No, you do not owe me anything. It is an honor just to meet you both. But we will have to find a way to make you blend in.”

Hunter had to explain that in an oddly sibilant language that she could barely hear. It was too high for human ears, but only just barely.

“We must work on your English so that no one sees the strangeness of you two. Then, I can try to find a way for you to fit into the human population.”

Very distinctly, May said, “This is very good, Doctor Pica. We appreciate your help very much!”

“Wow, that was perfect. How is it that you speak better English than Hunter?”

“I am how you say, housewife. I watch your feeds many more hours than Hunter. I know Andy Griffith on your feeds. Almost like a friend.”

All the way back to her apartment, they discussed the science of radio waves and feeds, the language, and such.

“You do not have a recognizable accent, Hunter. Otherwise, we could say you are new immigrants to America.”

“What is this… immig… immm … thing?” he asked. May did not help him, and she doubted the word ever occurred and the Andy Griffith Show.

Suleyka explained it, but it did not matter. They were simply too strange to accept immigration as an excuse.

She wracked her brain during the quiet times and soon, they turned into the street that held her apartment.

To her dismay, police cars were parked at the door, the lights flashing, and at least two detective cars were among them.

The bastard got a warrant, she thought, and turned to the left to get around behind some buildings.

Quickly, she explained what she had to do. “Those are police, law enforcement. They are searching for you, Hunter, and it is best that you stay away. You and May both wait right here and let me see if I can run them off.”

“Stay in car?” he asked.

“No, they might find my car. Both of you can disappear from view and move around these people. Do not get seen and do not get captured. Do not hurt any of them. That will get you ended. I will not be able to free you. Do you understand?”

“We do,” May said. The doors opened, the clothing dropped and was tossed onto the floorboard in back. Suleyka wadded it up and stuffed in her large bag behind the front seat. Holding her wallet, she got out, locked the door, and walked around the building, as if coming down the street.

Detective First Will Haper saw her coming and he brought a uniform with him to meet her on the street.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded, on the offensive, immediately.

“Easy, Doctor Pica! We had to be certain you were safe. Here is the warrant. Where have you been?”

“Does that warrant give you the right to pry into my private life? I went to dinner.”

“An investigation gives me the right, Doctor Pica. Where did you eat dinner?”

“Ohmigosh! I don’t know. Micky D’s, but where I have no idea. Out on the boulevard, but I am not sure. I thought you realized I was only a temporary convenience for this creature, Detective. What gives?”


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